A Fuzzy AHP Approach to Compare Transit System Performance in US Urbanized Areas

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, operations - performance, operations - frequency, planning - service rationalisation


Performance evaluation, US urban transit system, efficiency and effectiveness, fuzzy AHP


Public transit systems in the United States often face multiple policy objectives. Typically, stakeholders desire frequent service on an extensive network, but funding and other resources are constrained, creating complicated relationships between service effectiveness goals and business efficiency goals. Using data from the National Transit Map (NTM), this study evaluated the general performance of transit systems across 294 Urbanized Areas (UZAs) in the US, which were stratified into six peer groups based on population. Transit efficiency and effectiveness were compared by developing a composite business efficiency index score and a composite service effectiveness index score for each urbanized area. The scores were generated using a fuzzy logic extension of the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), which allows automated weighting of the measures. The NTM currently includes a limited set of performance measures, and each transit agency’s data are associated with the largest urban area it serves; consequently, it is perhaps best-suited for identifying high-performing UZAs and less suitable for identifying the weakest performers. The analytical results suggest that a few UZAs (mainly densely-populated cities and university towns) are simultaneously able to achieve high scores on both business efficiency and service effectiveness. In most small- and medium-size conurbations, business efficiency appears to be a higher policy priority than service effectiveness.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by the Journal of Public Transportation, copyright remains with them.